Up Front

From the Executive Editor

While the Obama administration has acomplished much good in two years, consider how much of the progressive agenda remains incomplete. While some initiatives were blocked or weakened by Congress, in many cases there are no excuses. As Jamelle Bouie, who joined the Prospect as a writing fellow in July, notes in his first feature article, President Barack Obama's failure to fill the many vacant positions on federal courts has not only created a backlog of cases but has also squandered Obama's opportunity to build a judiciary that will be supportive of his initiatives and reverse the conservative court-packing of the Bush years.

In her first cover story for the Prospect, Associate Editor Monica Potts reports that the promise of green jobs -- an employment renaissance based on clean -- energy manufacturing -- is also far from reality. Green jobs will probably never materialize without cap-and-trade or some initiative to make traditional energy sources more expensive.

Elsewhere in this issue, Co-Editor Robert Kuttner explores the work yet to be done on financial regulation and explains how Congress punted so many choices to the executive branch that Wall Street still has a chance to scuttle the nascent reforms. Other initiatives to fix the financial system or the political system are limited by incomplete information. As we show in a feature in this issue, the government is missing much of the data it needs to make better policy.

Plus, journalist David Axe reports from Congo on the U.S. military's involvement in the ambitious effort to protect women and girls from systematic rape in that country, putting to the test new ideas about how to use power for good. And a special report examines the labor movement's efforts abroad to organize workers in ways that match the reach of their transnational employers.

-- Mark Schmitt

The Question

If green jobs are a myth, what is the next growth industry?

"Red Jobs: How to be a good middle-man for all those factories in China." -- Negin Farsad, comedian

"Rogue Jobs. Tweet about how lame the Democrats are, and wait for the book and TV deals to roll in." -- Dave Weigel, Slate

"Jobs Jobs: for managing the increasingly unwieldy piles of cash Steve Jobs is managing to make during a recession." -- Baratunde Thurston, The Onion

PARODY by T.A. Frank


Thanksgiving Day Message, 2010

To: All service members in Afghanistan

If this is your 10th Thanksgiving in Afghanistan, let us be the first to celebrate this milestone with you. As you know, Thanksgiving isn't just a special time in the heritage of our nation but also a special time in Afghanistan, whether you're in the Army or in the ranks of our Taliban enemies. Outside, Jack Frost may bring winter winds, but inside we are toasty in our Kevlar, ready for whatever the day might bring.

We've heard some complaints that some of our meals have been a little gamey this year. The good folks at DynCorp -- who truly put the "dine" into DynCorp -- have informed us that this has nothing to do with the culling of feral dogs but is simply thanks to the rich flavor of wild Afghan turkey. They particularly recommend you try the paws.

We also gather that recent news that some of our Afghan colleagues in the security-contracting business are members of the Taliban has put a dent in a lot of folks' Thanksgiving spirit. We urge you not to hold this against the Afghan contractors you might happen to be dining with on this special day. While it's possible that they are plotting to kill you, it should be remembered that it's also possible that they are not plotting to kill you.

Finally, we all give thanks for the chance to have become so familiar with this vibrant nation, surpassing in our length of stay even our erstwhile Soviet competitors. We all know why we're here. On that note, incidentally, some of you have asked what to do with all the ballots from the last Afghan election that have been turning up periodically in random places on base. We find them to have multiple uses: Placed in bags they provide excellent cushioning, placed in drawers they make excellent lining, and placed in stoves they burn very clean. Our foodservice providers have also assured us that last year was an anomaly and that this year, none will be employed in the stuffing.

DIALOGUE -- Talking Turkey

Forget the so-called war on Christmas. Should liberals be against Thanksgiving?

Ann Friedman: It's that time of the year again! Conservatives are set to once again claim that liberals have declared war on Christmas. But honestly, I'd much rather wage a pitched battle against Thanksgiving.

Tim Fernholz: It involves all your least-favorite things: football, family, and huge amounts of turkey.

Ann: Yes, a holiday that allows me to confirm every liberal stereotype: I am indeed a sports-hating vegetarian who no longer lives near her family in America's heartland. Really, though, what justifies this as a national holiday?

Tim: The same thing that justifies Columbus Day. It's an excuse to look back at a rosy vision of our founding and remember just how fucked-up it was. When would liberals whine about this tragedy if there weren't a holiday commemorating it?

Ann: Are you kidding me? It's not as if anyone is remembering the genocide of Native Americans when they crack into the cranberry sauce and mash the potatoes. Thanksgiving is almost without exception portrayed as a celebration of partnership and camaraderie. It's peace-washing.

Tim: Which allows folks like you to point out how inauthentic that image is. If we didn't have a national holiday to get all exercised about, do you know how often we'd talk about those issues? Never!

Ann: That's pretty weak. It's like saying we should create a holiday to celebrate how awesome slavery was, just so we have an excuse to discuss the ways in which racism still pervades American society.

Tim: Not at all. Thanksgiving is not going away, but it's an opportunity for liberals to bend the narrative.

Ann: What narrative? The great American debate about whether to deep-fry or bake the turkey?

Tim: Perhaps the most important American debate. Really, though, aside from your personal dislikes of delicious things and America's sordid past, what's the case against Thanksgiving? You'd rather work more? You don't like secular holidays?

Ann: There are many events in U.S. history that are more worthy of commemoration with a day off work: the signing of the Civil Rights Act or the anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Those are things we should actually be proud of.

Tim: The fact that other holidays might be better doesn't mean Thanksgiving is bad.

Ann: In truth, maybe I really hate Thanksgiving because it's so difficult for me to get along with my conservative relatives.

Tim: Maybe you should just follow the Pilgrims' example: Steal their land, infect them with diseases, destroy their culture, and a few centuries later, have a party once a year to remember how much they taught you about growing corn.

Ann: Or maybe I'll just stay home and order takeout.

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